*** and 1/2
Wow. Imagine if Fight Club had been released post 9-11. It's hard to imagine it happening at all. That a major studio released V for Vendetta and is advertising it on Network television, showing it in mainstream theaters, is just inconcievable to me.
The film, based on a comic by Allen Moore, is about a British government that grabs power through religion and fear of terrorism, drawing obvious parallels to the current exploitation of such fears by those in power around the world today. This government is our own taken to it's likely Orwellian extremes. The film's hero is a buildling destroying, government official assasinating terrorist. With bible thumping, faith extolling bad guys, a couple of gay good guys and terrorism presented as a valid and effective tool for social change, even as beautiful, it will be interesting to sit back and watch the right wing media go nuts.
Getting past the shock that this film was made and released at all, I enjoyed it. It has some strange twists and quirks that feel very comic book in nature, and the hero is quite verbose, (ah if only I had the patience to write this post all in V's, like the first oh so long speech of the film) too verbose at times, but it fits his character.
Hugo Weaving does a good job creating this character even as his face is kept always behind a mask. Natalie Portman is great, playing the mellowdramatic seens with full conviction and taking it over the top only as much as the script calls for. John Hurt is fantastic as the Hitler like man in power.
The least believable character in V is the public. The public that put an oppressive government in power is overwhelming supportive of seeing that government put down. In real life there is of course always that portion of our population who passionately embraces the fear and the powerful people who convince us that they are protecting us from it. It would have been interesting to these folks represented and to see the Londonites of the near future as a bit more diverse.
The Wachowski Brothers show that they can work without the film tricks, fight coreography and other stylistic goodies that they employed to blow us all away with The Matrix. Here there are actually few action scenes but the audience may not have really been aware of that as the plot is propelled forward and entertaining throug out.
I've heard critics saying the movie feels like it has a political agenda but what that agenda is isn't clear. I wonder what film these guys were watching. It's clear as day. The Wachowskis are screaming that fear (of other religions, foreigners, homosexuals, terrorism) can put bad people in power, that the media is a government tool and please note that the V symbol is one line away from being the anarchy symbol. The message didn't feel heavy handed because it was simply, blatantly obvious, set in front of us from the start.